Academy Alumnus Michael Figueroa Makes His Mark with the Chicago Blackhawks!

Blackhawk's Goalie Scott Darling with Michael Figueroa.

American Academy of Art alumnus Michael Figueroa has been a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks ever since he was a kid. Michael has also been a big fan of creating a career around what he loves: tattooing.

Recently, Michael’s two loves combined when he created and tattooed a custom design for World Champion Blackhawk’s goaltender Scott Darling.

The tattoo, which features the Stanley Cup against the iconic Chicago skyline, paired with the Chicago flag and a feather from the Blackhawks Indian head logo, has been called everything from “epic” (by NBC Chicago) to “all types of badass” (by


Michael, the owner and digital director of design at FigSigArts, said the recent publicity on Darling’s tattoo has been an exciting and “unreal” experience. Darling got the famed tattoo 10 days after the Blackhawks clinched the Cup, but the two actually met after Scott’s sister, Sarah, liked Michael’s Facebook pagewhich led to Michael meeting Darling after a game when he was playing with the American Hockey League in Rockford. Michael has now tattooed Darling for more than 10 hours.

Even with the recent publicity, Michael has always tried to remain humble.

”It’s extremely important and a huge honor that people put their trust in me,” Michael stated. “After all, I’m leaving a mark that will last their entire lives.”


Michael, who served in the U.S. Army, recalls with amazement when his first sergeant (who he hadn’t seen in 15 years), came all the way from Ft. Hood, Texas, to get a tattoo from him.

Michael was first inspired to pursue art in high school after seeing the work of Drew Struzan, an American artist known for his movie posters.

“With any kind of art I do, regardless of tattooing, I have a pretty solid base of education that I apply to my work,” Michael said. “Perspective, life drawing, light source, reference, color theory, design and structure are all things I learned from the Academy and apply to my work every day. My education definitely puts me a step ahead of a lot of tattoo artists.”


Michael says that 99.9% of the time, his creations start with just an idea and a sketch. Some of Michael’s proudest moments have been having his military artwork showcased at West Point Academy in New York, using his art to raise money for charities, and giving people a second chance by helping cover up old tattoos with brand new creations.


In addition to managing his own growing business, Michael still tattoos at Spiderz Tattooz in his hometown of Sycamore.

Along with having tattooed two Blackhawks prospects currently playing in Rockford, Michael has even tattooed Darling’s dad, who surprised his son with a tattoo of the goaltender hoisting the Stanley Cup. And Michael’s not done yet. He’ll finish the rest of Darling’s arm sleeve in August. Michael is also finishing a pair of painted shoes, inspired by the hockey player’s third NHL mask, for Darling’s mom. Most recently, Michael completed paintings for the Blackhawks Convention.


Living in East Dundee with his wife and children, Michael recently began pursuing a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Northern Illinois University.

Like most successful artists, Michael is doing what he loves and very busy!







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